How to Stay Up-to-Date in Your Field

Whatever your chosen field or level of training, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, trends and discoveries in your line of work. The world is constantly evolving, and what worked a decade ago, last year or even last month may be considered passé or even damaging in today’s world. Here’s how you can ensure you’re always current within your field. 

Pair up with a work buddy

Experience is truly the best teacher. If you don’t have enough of your own, why not piggyback on someone else’s experience to help you learn? Find a mentor, or work buddy, in your chosen industry by teaming up with a friend in your field. You can share ideas, ask questions about new developments in your industry and open a dialogue about valuable lessons each of you have learned while on the job. Ask your work buddy to provide feedback on any big projects you’ve completed, and serve as a sounding board for them as well. The partnership will help both of you stay updated and knowledgeable about all recent happenings in your field. 

Pursue further education 

Education in any subject is a lifelong pursuit. Broadening your knowledge in your field will help you up your game and advance your career. You can accomplish this by signing up for an online or in-person course, or reading a new book that covers topics in your field. 

In 2022, though, there are so many more ways to learn about any topic you can dream up. Tap into the powerful reach of social media by following accounts of experts in your field on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You’ll likely pick up a tremendous amount of insight and helpful tips for your line of work. You can also tune into one of the many podcasts on almost every line of work to stay up-to-date in your industry.

Attend networking events

Meeting with other professionals in your field will help you stay connected and aware of every new development. You can seek out networking events on your own or ask your employer to send you to events on behalf of the company. At the actual events, work on forging relationships with other experts in your line of work. 

Utilize Google Alerts

Take advantage of Google Alerts to stay current in your field. You can do this by signing up to be notified when specific keywords are trending on the Google search engine. This will negate the need for you to constantly seek out industry news; instead, the news will be delivered directly to you.

Your Turn: How do you ensure you are always up-to-date in your chosen field? Share your best tips in the comments. 

Ten Signs it’s Time to Leave a Job

Making it work at work isn’t always easy, but sometimes the environment, working conditions, lack of growth and other factors can mean it’s time to call it quits. Here are 10 signs it’s time to leave a job: 

  1.  You aren’t challenged.

If you feel like your skills and strengths aren’t being used on the job, you are likely limiting your growth potential. This is especially true if you’ve been at the position for a while and have been denied opportunities to really use your skills. 

  1. You aren’t passionate about your work.

If you took a job that seemed to speak to your passions, but you are growing increasingly disinterested in your work, you may want to look for another job. 

  1. The work environment is unpleasant.

You may love the actual work you do at your job, but if the environment is unpleasant, 

or worse, toxic, it can be time to hand in your resignation. This includes colleagues who don’t get along, an overly critical or controlling boss or supervisor, an atmosphere of dishonesty and 

distrust, and the like. 

  1. You’ve maxed out your growth at this company.

If you know you’ve hit your ceiling and there’s no or limited room for growth at this firm, consider moving on to new ventures

  1. Your values are being compromised.

Compromising your values on a regular basis can leave you feeling miserable. If you’re being forced into this position in the workplace, it may be time to leave your job. 

  1. The company’s future is unstable.

If the ship is sinking, get off while you can. You can review the company’s annual financial reports for insight into its stability and future. 

  1. You aren’t earning your true worth.

If you know you aren’t being adequately compensated at your current job, consider seeking a new one elsewhere. You can look up average salaries for similar positions on sites, like Glassdoor, to determine if you are earning your true worth. 

  1. You dread returning to work after a break.

It’s normal to look forward to the weekends and to count down until your next vacation, but if you feel physically ill at the thought of returning to work after the weekend or break, or work stress keeps you up at night, it can be a sign that it’s time to leave your job. 

  1. Your job can no longer provide you with the work-life balance you need.

Whether it’s due to changing circumstances in your personal life or to an increase in hours at your position, your job requirements may no longer be in sync with your home life. If this is the case, it may be worthwhile to seek new employment. 

  1. There are better opportunities available elsewhere.

If you know that another company has job openings that may be better than what you have currently, it can be a good time to switch jobs. When considering new options, don’t forget to look at the entire package, including room for growth, benefits the job offers, paid time off and the general schedule and more, in addition to the actual salary.

Your Turn: How do you know when it’s time to leave a job? Share your own tip with us in the comments. 

Leaving Your Job? Make Sure Your Wallet is Ready

One of the many pandemic’s lasting effects on the U.S. economy is the so-called Great Resignation of 2021. Employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs in droves. In fact, according to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a whopping 20.2 million workers left their jobs from May 2021 through September 2021. Reasons for the high turnover range from availability of federal economic aid to general burnout, which reached a turning point during the pandemic. 

If you are considering becoming a part of the Great Resignation, it’s important to make sure your finances are in order before you give official notice at your job to cover any gaps in employment. Below, we’ve outlined some important steps to take before you leave your job.  

Review your savings

Before giving up a steady paycheck, make sure you have enough savings to tide you over until you find new employment. Ideally, you should have an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses to help you survive periods of unemployment, such as when you’re between jobs.  If you don’t have this kind of money saved up, consider pushing off your resignation until you can put together a nest egg to help you get by without a paycheck. 

Check your benefits 

If your job includes employee benefits, like retirement funding, be sure to review them carefully before giving notice. Here are different options to consider for the most common employee benefits: 

  • Health insurance. Work-sponsored health coverage generally ends on an employee’s last day at work, though coverage will sometimes continue until the end of the month. Similarly, some companies start covering new employees on their first day of work, while others have a waiting period that can last from 30 to 90 days. If you’ll have a gap in coverage, try to negotiate for early coverage when securing your new job. If this is not possible, thanks to COBRA, you can continue your current health coverage at your own expense for 18 months after you leave your job. It’s important to note, though, that this can be a pricey option. You can also purchase a short-term policy through the marketplace. 
  • Pension. If your previous place of employment came with a pension, you may be able to keep it or take out the money when you leave. This depends on whether or not your contributions are vested and the other rules of the pension plan. In general, if you were only at this job for a short while, you likely will not be able to hold onto your pension. If you have a choice, it can be better not to take out a pension in a lump sum because you will likely get a better return with a pension than on other investments. If you do take out your pension, you may want to roll it over into an IRA or a 401(k), which is tax-deferred. 
  • 401(k). If your old job came with a 401(k), you’ll need to decide what to do with the funds. You can keep the account as it is without making any additional contributions, roll over the funds to a new 401(k) program, roll the money over into an IRA or cash it out. Consider the investment options in your current 401(k) when making your decision. 
  • Life insurance. Don’t forget to consider a possible gap in your life insurance coverage when leaving a job. You may be able to continue paying for coverage until you have a new plan through your next place of employment. 

Assess your risk tolerance

Before accepting a new job, make sure you can handle a possible blow to your income. Many jobs will present new employees with the possibility of better pay in the future, while initially only offering a starting salary. How comfortable are you taking a risk with a new job that doesn’t guarantee as much financial security? 

Adjust your budget for your new salary

If your new job comes with better pay, or you’ll be bringing home a smaller paycheck for now, you’ll need to adjust your budget accordingly. You may want to increase the contributions you make toward your investments or find a new place to park your cash, such as a Advantage One Credit Union Savings Account, for the extra income while you decide on a more permanent strategy. On the flip side, if you’ll be earning less money now, look for ways to trim your budget so your paycheck can stretch to cover all your expenses. 

Leaving an old job and looking for a new one can be an exciting opportunity, but it’s important to make sure your finances are in order before taking that leap. Follow the tips outlined here before giving notice at your place of employment to ensure ongoing financial security.  

Your Turn: Have you recently changed jobs? Share your best tips and strategies in the comments. 

How to Create Your First Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches take humble-bragging to a new level. At its core, the concept of an elevator pitch is to squeeze all you can about your talents, strengths and work experience into the time it takes for an elevator to travel from one floor to the next.

Your last few months in college are a great time for polishing your elevator pitch until it is perfect. You can use it to answer common interview questions as you job hunt, or just have it handy if you happen to run into a potential new employer, anytime, anywhere. Working on your elevator pitch will also help you clarify your work goals as you prepare to transition to a new stage of life.

To make this task easier, we’ve broken down the process of creating a killer elevator pitch into seven simple steps. While reading through each section, jot down a few sentences that cover the details of that category. Don’t worry about the writing or syntax here; we’ll get to that.

Step 1: Introduce yourself

Launch your pitch with a super-short intro about your background. Include your name, your major and your unique interests. You can also throw in a one-liner about any special research projects or volunteer work you’ve participated in during college.

Step 2: Talk about your work experience

Now that listeners know who you are, start listing any work experience you already have in your field. Include paid work as well as internships.

Step 3: Sell yourself

Now, you’re going to step in with your professional strengths and areas of expertise. It’s OK to boast a bit here, as long as you don’t cross the line into arrogance. Just speak matter-of-factly and tell the absolute truth. For example, if you’re a law major looking for a paid internship in a large law firm and you know you have a way with words, you can talk about the way you’ve always been chosen as the spokesperson in college work, or how you dominated the debate team thanks to your fantastic oratory skills.

Step 4: Talk about what you can bring to the team

What are your work goals? What kind of value can you bring to the company? Take a minute to put this into words.

Step 5: Wrap it up 

Close your pitch with an eye toward the future by talking about how you can’t wait to hear back from your listener, or how you look forward to working for them or in their company.

Step 6: Put it all together

Now that you’ve got the content for an elevator pitch written down, it’s time to bring it together in a short, hard-hitting pitch.

First, go through each section to pull out the most important parts. Leave out anything that is not absolutely essential. Next, start the actual writing by putting it all together in one paragraph. Remember: Time is limited here, so keep it short and sweet. Elevator pitches are best when delivered in 30 seconds or less, which gives you approximately 75 words to work with. Once you’ve got it all in one place, read through your pitch again and again, weeding out anything that sounds awkward or isn’t crucial to your pitch. When you’ve got it down to 75 words or less, you’re ready to move on.

Step 7: Practice, practice, practice

A perfectly written pitch is worthless if the delivery is lacking. You want to come off sounding super-confident and capable to any potential employer you meet. Practice delivering your pitch in front of the mirror and with friends until you know it by heart. It’s also a good idea to record yourself speaking so you can hear how you sound and make any necessary changes to the word flow.

Keep at it until you can deliver the elevator pitch in your sleep.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of the elevator pitch, you’re ready to get out there and blow those employers away with your talent and skills. Go get ‘em!

Your Turn: We’d love to hear your elevator pitch! Share it with us in the comments.

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Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose

Title: Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose
Author: Lauren McGoodwin
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper Business
Publishing date: May 19, 2020
Average customer review: 5 out of 5 stars

Who is this book for?

  • Young professionals who feel stuck and are lacking career fulfillment
  • Followers of McGoodwin’s Career Contessa site who want to build on their career know-how
  • Businesswomen who are seeking growth and a career change

What’s inside this book?

  • Information, guidance, advice and essential tools to help women shed self-doubt and fear, and also take bold steps forward in their careers
  • Helpful to-do’s and checklists to provide accountability
  • Powerful graphics to bring the lessons to life

5 lessons you’ll learn from this book:

  • How to cut out comparison, shame, and self-loathing
  • How to abandon the idea of that elusive “dream job”
  • How to embrace your inner questioner, your inner quester and your inner quitter
  • How to make money moves and take control of your financial future
  • How women can build a successful career on their own terms

4 questions this book will answer for you:

  • What is a Power Move and why does it matter?
  • How can I tune out noise and better tune in my own voice?
  • How can I bypass the quest for perfection and move directly toward career growth?
  • What practical steps do I need to take before making a career change?

What people are saying about this book:

  • Honest, candid, and thoughtful
  • An easy read with actionable advice
  • Power Moves is an honest and brave manifesto on how to take control of your career and, ultimately, your happiness, on your terms.
  • If you are ready to achieve real success in your career (and life), this is the book you absolutely need to read right now.
  • There is a certain type of savvy I thought couldn’t be taught, but Lauren McGoodwin is making her sharp instincts accessible to everyone. She is part trusted friend who knows what you’re up against, part professional guru who wants to help you realize your full potential.

Your Turn:
Are you a Lauren McGoodwin fan? Tell us what you love about her approach in the comments.

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